I’m curious as to how they are perceived by the more traditional actors of TV, Broadway and the big screen. Are they at the bottom of a “caste” system? Are they envied because they have regular work? How much do they make?
I am not involved in the industry but I think they look upon it as a way to learn your craft and have a certain amount of respect for putting on a one hour show everyday. But at the same time, no big time star is ever going to take a regular role on a soap. Work schedule is too grinding and at the end of the day, it is a soap *ludicrous story lines, etc).
Salaries? Maybe a few of the top ones get big money. One of my friends’s father once did some repair work for Susan Lucci (All my Children) at her place in Quoque, NY. He said both she and the house were immaculately gorgeous. Her husband, apparently, has some money too. But she had decades on that show. Most soap actors are just starting and I have no idea what they get.
CBS’s New York-based soaps (both now sadly defunct) often featured actors who were as well known for “legitimate theater” (usually Broadway plays (as opposed to musicals)) as they were for their soap roles (at least among New York theatergoers). There was also a HUGE amount of interplay between those New-York-based soaps and New-York-based primetime series, especially Law & Order. None of them were SUPERSTARS or anything like that, but they weren’t stuck in some kind of “soap opera ghetto”, either.
As for how they’re paid, most have pay-for-play contracts, meaning they’re paid by the episode rather than an annual salary like some actors are given. Per this site, the highest paid are the longtime veterans who anchor the shows (e.g. Deidre Hall, Susan Lucci, etc.) who can make more than $5,000 per episode. That may not sound like much considering there are sitcom stars making one hundred times that, but consider that the star of a soap opera might appear in more than 200 episodes per year.
Most, even of the popular characters, don’t make nearly that much, and the “hot 20 year old of the week” is probably doing good if they get $1,000 per day. However, it’s a great place to get spotted and many very successful actors have started off as the hot kids on soaps.
There is snobbery because of the above mentioned ludicrous bad writing and all the tropes (e.g. the 50 year old matriarch with [due to soap kids aging in dog years] a 25 year old grandson who’s a neurosurgeon and a dead lover who’s really currently on an island with amnesia), but I think there’s also a lot more bitterness at the “highly paid for ludicrous writing” aspect. It’s completely acceptable for an unknown actor to take a role on a soap for the money and experience but significantly less so for a known actor, though it’s surprising the well known actors who do show up in guest appearances on soaps (especially second banana actors from long gone TV shows), though some actors have been known to take roles like this this to keep up their insurance and other SAG benefits. Once in a while you’ll have a big name voluntarily doing a soap: Liz Taylor was probably the biggest, James Franco the most recent.
And really, quite a few big-name actors started out in soaps. Meg Ryan, Julianne Moore, David Hasselhoff, and Sarah Michelle Gellar all started out on soaps (As The World Turns for Ryan and Moore, The Young & The Restless for Hasselhoff, All My Children for Gellar).
Actually James Franco is a reoccurring character on General Hospital.
Either my sight is bad or your site is missing.
Most young(er) actors simply need the work, and soaps are often a nice steady salary. Also, as mentioned above, many really do jump from soaps to film or other TV shows.
We used to be fans of General Hospital but just don’t have the time to watch anymore. Still, we will often see prime time TV shows and see an actor from GH in a guest starring role. So obviously working on a soap is not a necessarily a kiss-of-death regarding a career in other shows. Some of the lesser actors with smaller roles on GH actually seem to get quite a bit of work doing the occasional prime time guest roles…it probably comes down to how good your agent is or isn’t.
Not to mention, (as noted above) Elizabeth Taylor (ELIZABETH TAYLOR!!) on the same soap in the 80s.
Who??? (scurrying to wiki)